Conference Director Darragh Healy gives Motley the lowdown on a refugee orientated law conference ahead of our own Migration November issue

This year’s annual UCC Law Society’s Conference will take place on 3rd November 2016. The title of the Conference is “Boundaries of Law: Perspectives on the European Refugee Crisis.”

On September 2nd, 2015, the images of the lifeless body of Aylan Kurdi, a 3 year old toddler whose body was found washed up on a Turkish beach, reverberated across the globe. The boat ferrying him and his family from Turkey to Greece capsized, killing twelve passengers. Aylan’s 5 year old brother and mother were also among the dead.  His final journey was supposed to end in sanctuary in Europe but instead claimed his life and highlighted the plight of desperate people caught in the gravest refugee crisis since World War II. While he became a symbol of the crisis, shaping debate and stirring public outrage, very little changed. As Aylan’s father Abdullah said in a recent interview, “It is a story the world is quick to forget”.

There has never been a time when the need for a common European response to refugee arrivals has been more urgent. However, in times of such pressing need, the core values of cooperation, sharing of responsibility and protection of rights set out in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights appear to have been overlooked. Many consider the European Union’s response to date as being inadequate in truly comprehending the magnitude of the crisis. The problem is twofold: lack of safe passage across the Mediterranean and the uneven distribution of asylum seekers across the EU.  The Conference will address these shortcomings but most importantly explore possible solutions to the situation that we find ourselves in.

This year we will have a range of high profile speakers coming to our Conference at UCC to address these issues and engage in constructive dialogue with a view to addressing the current problems framed by lacunas in our legal system. Some of the high profile speakers include: Professor Guy Goodwin-Gill, Emeritus Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford and Emeritus Professor of International Refugee Law in the University of Oxford; Commander Patrick Burke, Legal Adviser to GOC 1 Brigade; Dr Cathryn Costello, Andrew W. Mellon Associate Professor in International Human Rights and Refugee Law; Commissioner David Costello, Refugee Applications Commissioner for Ireland; Maria Hennessy, Legal officer at the Irish Refugee Council Independent Law Centre; Fiona Finn, CEO of Nasc, the Irish Immigrant Support Centre; The Honourable Mr Justice Bryan M.E. McMahon, Former High Court judge; Noeline Blackwell, CEO of Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, who will chair the Conference; Judge Sean O Donnabhain, Senior Cork Circuit Court Judge, who will open the Conference; Professor Siobhan Mullally, Professor of Law and Vice Head of the College of Business of Law at UCC, who will close the Conference.

From our perspective, the aim of the Conference is to provide a forum for constructive dialogue on the issue. It is our hope that the Conference will attract some national media attention which will shine the light on this pressing issue and highlight the fact that this crisis is an issue of priority for students, academics and legal professionals alike.

If you would like to register for the Conference please email with your name and your student number. We look forward to seeing you there!


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